New drug takes multiple approach to prevent brain damage from stroke

September 13, 2000

Reduces damage by two-thirds in animal tests

Japanese researchers have created a "triple-threat" drug that reduced by two-thirds the area of brain damage from stroke in animal tests. The achievement is reported in the current (September 7) issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a biweekly, peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Though it has been tried thus far only in animals, the drug shows promise as a way to limit neurological damage from ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke, said Hirokazu Annoura, Ph.D., the lead researcher for the team at Suntory Biomedical Research in Osaka, Japan. The researchers believe the drug, called SUN N8075, can be given up to 12 hours after the onset of the stroke.

The drug appears to succeed because it takes multiple approaches to combating different causes of brain cell death associated with stroke, Annoura said. Specifically, it blocks calcium and sodium channels in the brain that activate a protein that causes cells to die. It also acts as a strong antioxidant, preventing an oxygen imbalance in the brain that can lead to further damage.

"So many factors cause brain cell damage, a combination treatment is necessary to provide clinically significant efficacy," Annoura said. "And while we do not think our treatment reverses the disability after a stroke, we think it can provide relief as a result of protection against cell death during, and after, the stroke."

Additional testing revealed no side effects such as raised blood pressure, inflated heart rate or harmful effects on other chemicals in the brain, Annoura said. Because the results were so promising, the drug will be tested on other brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, he added.

The complementary approach is what differentiates the new drug from other stroke medications, Annoura said. He expects the drug to proceed to human clinical trials, he continued.

Strokes can cause paralysis, loss of motor function and cognitive problems. It interrupts the flow of blood in the brain, which causes cells to die. Ischemic stroke, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all strokes, is the result of a blood clot in the brain, according to the American Stroke Association.

More than 600,000 people have a stroke annually. Approximately 160,000 of them die, making stroke the third most common cause of death in the United States, according to the association.
The online version of the research paper cited above was initially published August 19 on the journal's Web site. Journalists can arrange access to this site by sending an email to or calling the contact person for this release.

Hirokazu Annoura, Ph.D., is a scientific officer at Suntory Biomedical Research, Ltd., in Osaka, Japan.

American Chemical Society

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